Let’s talk about motor oil brands with high amounts of Zinc. Did you know Zinc and Phosphorus anti-wear additives are used in motor oil? Zinc and phosphorus can serve as a protective coating on engine parts, reducing friction on metal-to-metal contact. This protects your car from engine damage. However, the use of Zinc in lubricating oils has been debated for years concerning its effects on catalytic converters.
Motor oil developers responded to this issue by reducing the amount of Zinc and Phosphorus in their oil. If you want to avoid bad catalytic converters and bad o2 sensors, you might want to avoid high zinc motor oils. Unless you own a classic hot rod or a racing car that benefits from high zinc motor oil.
When do you need a high zinc motor oil?
Do you need a high zinc oil? The answer is no unless you have an older car, one that’s been modified, or a racing car. These engines can have extreme amounts of heat and other stresses. High zinc motor oils help keep these engines from overheating and also help with wear and tear on the engine itself, which can shorten its life span if not used properly.
However, we do not recommend opting for high Zinc motor oil unless there is a serious need. There are tradeoffs associated with using this type of oil instead of something else like synthetic or conventional oil that has less Zinc in it.
You should not use high zinc motor oil for newer engines with catalytic converters. The high zinc content can cause the converter to burn and ruin it, costing you more money in the long run.
What motor oils have high Zinc?
Zinc dialkyl dithiophosphate contains Zinc and Phosphorus. ZDDP levels vary from oil to oil, so it’s essential to read the label. However, the numbers on the labels sometimes have room for variation (+/-). This can make it difficult to determine precisely how much ZDDP is in your oil.
CAUTION: DO NOT USE HIGH ZINC MOTOR OIL WITH MODERN ENGINES WITH CATALYTIC CONVERTERS OR WET CLUTCH APPLICATIONS
Several motor oils have high ZDDP. ZDDP is an additive that helps resist heat and wear in your engine. The higher the ZDDP, the better your engine will perform. Here are some of the motor oils with the highest ZDPP or zinc and phosphorus additive:
- Classic car motor oil – for classic cars and vintage models, you can use classic car oils with higher levels of Zinc than modern formulations. These are usually sold by car manufacturers and aftermarket brands like Mobil 1, Castrol, and Valvoline.
- Racing motor oil – racing oils may have more Zinc. Still, they also have more detergents to clean out carbon deposits from your engine from racing. These are not recommended for street use because they tend to be too thin for everyday driving conditions.
- Brake-in motor oil – brake in oil is specially formulated for new engines during their first 500 miles of operation. It can be broken properly without premature wear on critical parts like connecting rods or crankshaft journals. It has very high levels of ZDPP and will protect against wear until normal break-in is complete and regular service intervals can begin again.
Top 5 classic cars and racing motor oil brands with high amount of Zinc
As discussed above, racing motor oil is designed for high-performance engines of hot rods. They have a higher level of ZDDP than conventional motor oil and are also more expensive. Let’s take a look at the zinc and phosphorus contents of some popular classic cars and racing motor oils:
- Valvoline VR1 Full Synthetic Racing Oil – The well-known Valvoline VR1 Full Synthetic Racing Oil is first on the list. Its high zinc formula provides race-level protection and increases the horsepower of high-performance engines on the race track or the highway. It has 1300 ppm of Zinc and 1200 ppm of Phosphorus.
- Mobil1 0W50 Racing Oil is a synthetic motor oil for race engine protection. It is designed to maximize horsepower output and boost anti-wear protection levels. It has a nominal zinc level of 1,850 ppm and a phosphorus level of 1750 ppm.
- Castrol GTX Classic 20W-50 – Unlike the previous products, the Castrol GTX Classic 20W-50 is a conventional motor oil designed for your flat tappet engine. It maintains a tough and thick film on the cylinder walls to provide a high level of protection against wear. It has reasonable ZDDP levels (around 1300 ppm zinc, 1100 Phosphorus.
- Amsoil Z-ROD 20W-50 Synthetic Motor Oil is specially engineered for classic cars. It contains high levels of ZDDP, top-tier additives, and rust inhibitors to protect your beloved classic hot rod. It can deliver maximum performance and free your classic engine from rust and corrosion in storage. It has 1575 ppm of Zinc and 1424 ppm of Phosphorus.
- Lucas Hot Rod & Classic Car Motor Oil SAE 20W-50 – This motor oil is for muscle, showroom, classic, and trophy cars without catalytic converters. It contains high levels of Zinc necessary to protect flat tappet cams, lifters, and pushrods. Its zinc level is at 2100 ppm!
|Lucas Hot Rod & Classic Car Motor Oil||2,100 ppm||unknown|
|Mobil1 0W50 Racing Oil||1,850 ppm||1,750 ppm|
|Z-ROD 20W-50 Synthetic Motor Oil||1,575 ppm||1,424 ppm|
|Valvoline VR1 Full Synthetic Racing Oil||1,300 ppm||1,750 ppm|
|Castrol GTX Classic 20W-50||1,300 ppm||1,100 ppm|
Five things you should know about ZDDP or Zinc in motor oils
- ZDDP is the short form for zinc dialkyl dithiophosphate, which contains Zinc and Phosphorus. An anti-wear additive creates a surface layer boundary inside your engine, which helps prevent metal-to-metal contact and wear. It also provides corrosion and oxidation protection.
- ZDDP is used in many lubricants, including greases, hydraulic, and motor oils. It’s often used in high-performance and racing engines because it increases the temperature range where oil can be used in those applications.
- Zinc additives respond to heat and protect areas with lots of friction. Suppose you own an older vehicle with flat tappets or flat camshaft designs. In that case, your engine might be susceptible to excessive wear if you don’t use an oil with ZDDP additives.
- If you’re looking for an oil with a high zinc level, whether to use it for an old car or avoid it for new generation cars, you will have to look at older formulations. In 1994 manufacturers began reducing the level of Zinc on engine oil because it may turn to ash and hurt catalytic converters.
- High zinc engine oil is also common in racing and performance engines because they require more protection than the average vehicle. As mentioned above, the Valvoline VR1 Racing Motor Oil is one of the few oils on the market that still contains high levels of Zinc and other additives.
Here we researched the best brands of motor oils based on the ZDDP (Zinc) content. And Lucas Hot Rod and Classic Motor oil have the highest zinc level. Almost all manufacturers have eliminated Zinc from their modern car motor oils because it’s said to contribute to the formation of sludge and help catalyze engine deposits. The ZDDP levels of these top brands are important figures.
We added additional information to our list, including more in-depth brand comparisons. Furthermore, we hope this list will benefit those searching for high zinc oil for their classic and racing engines. As well as an explanation of what ZDDP is and why it’s crucial. It’s also worth noting that we only focused on racing and classic car oils here, but there are other types of oil with high zinc content, such as brake-in motor oil.